The Water Festival (“Bon Om Tuk”), the most exuberant festival in Cambodia, took place on November 15-17th. According to Jinja, the Festival marks the start of the dry season and of Bon Kathan (a Buddhist practice done yearly where new robes are offered to monks).
Up to a million people from all walks of life and from all over the country flocked to the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers in Phnom Penh to watch traditional boats racing. As Phatry notes about the crowds, “I woke up amazingly late at 10 in the morning. already, hundreds of thousands phnom penhois, country folks, and tourists swell the waterfront and independence monument area. “
Hundreds of boats and paddlers will compete, including a boat team of HIV-positive men and women.
According to Jinja, many villages send a boat team to Phnom Penh. The village boat is usually stored at a community temple (‘Vat’) and the team begins practicing in the months before November. Companies, nonprofits, associations and groups of friends assemble boat teams.
There is great pride for the local village boat team. As KhmerAK notes,”People going to see the boat racing along the river and especially giving support to the one comming from the province where they from, and maybe me too, going to support the one from my province . . .”
In addition to the photograph above, Jinja captured some amazing photos of the Water Festival boats. He also photographed some of the illuminated boats on the river in the evenings, like this one:
Meanwhile, Cambodian bloggers living out of country, like Wanna, are reminded of the Water Festival.